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Discover dazzling summer displays across National Trust gardens in the East Midlands

Summer is the perfect time for lazy strolls and gentle walks in National Trust gardens that are bursting with colourful planting.
 |  Made  |  Leisure

Spend sunny days meandering along tree-lined paths, through formal gardens and historic parterres to admire breathtaking displays of roses alongside impressive herbaceous borders filled to the brim with vibrant flowers.

Trees bask in the warmth of walled kitchen gardens, which are bursting with seasonal produce. Everything from salads to squashes are often harvested and used in the on-site cafés, where you can also find refreshments from ice creams to tea and scones!

Soak up the tranquillity of summer gardens as you relax on grassy lawns and reflect by ponds and lakes with a picnic or a good book. Each garden is looked after by a team of National Trust staff and volunteers, and is planted to not only add colour and interest, but to support wildlife. We’re also doing more in these green spaces to adapt to the impacts of climate change.

To celebrate the quiet, relaxing days of early summer, the National Trust has pulled together a list of the best places for a serene stroll in some of the most beautiful gardens across the Midlands. They include:


Clumber Park, near Worksop
Spanning four acres, the productive walled kitchen garden at Clumber Park is one of the grandest surviving 18th century walled gardens in the country and at its height was cared for by 30 gardeners. It is home to the National Collection of Rhubarb, and its Grade II listed Glasshouse and Palm House was restored earlier this year. At 451 feet, it is the longest Glasshouse in the care of the National Trust and was installed by the 7th Duke of Newcastle.

The Workhouse, Southwell
The Workhouse this year marks its 200th anniversary. The garden surrounding it once provided fruit and vegetables for the inmates of The Workhouse, and today it is maintained by an army of volunteers who grow many heritage varieties. The Bramley apple trees in the orchard have a special connection with the area. In fact, Southwell is the home of Bramley apples, as the original seedling was planted by a local girl 200 years ago.


Belton Estate, Grantham
There’s plenty to see at Belton including its Italian Garden and formal bedding schemes set out in the Dutch Garden to the palms, ferns and greenery inside the Conservatory. There’s also the extensive Pleasure Grounds to explore.

Gunby Hall, near Spilsby
There are eight acres of different garden ‘rooms’ to be discovered at Gunby Hall. These include pretty wildflower areas and sweeping lawns to a well-stocked kitchen garden. The roses are the highlight of the gardens over the summer, with more than 80 old and modern hybrid tea roses in the collection.


Hardwick Hall, near Chesterfield
The impressive Elizabethan Hall, built by the formidable ‘Bess of Hardwick’ in the late 1500s, is surrounded by historic gardens. Visitors can wander the paths around the herb garden, orchards and west court. The path from the gatehouse follows borders filled with a variety of colour. The famed gardener, Gertrude Jekyll, is said to have helped influence the planting in this part of the garden.

Calke Abbey, Ticknall, near Derby
Calke’s enchanting gardens have bursts of colour everywhere you look. Step into the Flower Garden and admire bold displays from the heritage pelargoniums on the auricula theatre to the Victorian summer bedding, inspired by the colours of the seaside. 

The smells of summer fill the air in the Physic Garden, with a lavender border, a fragrant sweet pea arch and towering vegetables beds full of home-grown fruits and vegetables, some of which you can purchase from a donation stand. The annual flower border in the Kitchen Garden is also a riot of colour from July and comes alive with the hum of butterflies and bees. Children’s Country House at Sudbury Hall, Ashbourne
Visitors can connect with nature as they explore and play in the gardens of The Children's Country House at Sudbury. They can discover the meadows throughout the parkland, with mown pathways perfect for running and finding interesting insects and birds. There’s the opportunity to explore the terrace beds and urns as they begin to bloom, or take a moment by the tranquil Lily Pond. Meanwhile, the Sunken Garden provides the perfect picnic spot.

Kedleston Hall, near Derby
The ongoing project in the Pleasure Grounds to reawaken the original features of the 18th-century garden continues.

An array of plants and flowers were planted last year, which are beginning to flower. Look out for Berberis verruculasa (elephant ears), peonies as well as different foliage varieties. As the flower beds become more established, it will help to provide colour and depth to the garden as they grow in the coming years. Over the last few weeks, the garden volunteers, and staff at Kedleston have been hard at work planting thousands of annuals in the main garden – from Cosmos bipinnatus ‘Candy Stripe’ to Zinnia elegans ‘Super Yoga Salmon Rose’.

For further details,

  1. Wildflowers at Kedleston Hall, National Trust Images, Steve Franklin.
  2. The Orangery at Belton, National Trust Images, Megan Taylor.
  3. The glasshouse at Clumber in the summer, National Trust Images, Tracey Blackwell.
  4. Enjoy the summer gardens in Derbyshire, National Trust Images, Arnhel de Serra.
  5. Enjoy gentle walks in National Trust gardens this summer, National Trust Images, Paul Harris.
  6. Dahlias are a summer favourite, National Trust Images, Abi Cole.
  7. A view across the ponds at Hardwick, National Trust Images, Robert Morris.